Guilty NRL And AFL Players Have 'Almost No Chance Of Escaping' ASADA Doping Sanctions
National Rugby League and Australian Football League players guilty of doping infractions "have almost no chance of escaping without sanction, and will be required to inform on a teammate or a member of a club's football department to receive a reduced penalty," according to Roy Masters of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority CEO Aurora Andruska also "exploded some of the myths around the drugs crisis involving NRL and AFL clubs." There are three defenses against a doping charge: "A doctor stuck a needle in me while I was having an operation," "I was assured the product I was taking was not on the banned list" and the "substantial assistance" option. Andruska: "The only time a zero sanction has been given was when the athlete has been unconscious during surgery by a doctor. That is a very high bar. To get a zero sanction on the second defense, the bar is also very high. In my period at ASADA, I am yet to see that defense sustained." Andruska said the "substantial assistance" option, which can reduce a penalty by 75%, cutting a two-year ban to six months, "must result in a doping violation against someone else." Andruska said, "It's not a case of the athlete saying, 'Yes, I did the wrong thing.' He has to give information on others that means other charges coming to light." Asked if this meant, say, a winger volunteering, "I took a peptide and so did my centre teammate," Andruska gave a firm "Yes." Andruska also "dismissed media reports" that the drugs allegedly taken by NRL Cronulla Sharks players were not on the banned list. In reference to the period sports scientist Stephen Dank allegedly injected players with peptides, Andruska said, "The substances were prohibited in 2011." Andruska revealed ASADA "began gathering information 18 months ago, and shared it with the ACC a year ago." Andruska: "The ACC became interested in crime's links with sport, and we shared information, which was a very fruitful exercise" (SMH, 3/17).
UNHEEDED WARNINGS? In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko wrote, "This whole mess at Cronulla, 'management failings' and all, could have been avoided if the club had heeded the findings of an independent review it commissioned" back in '06. The Sharks employed the Mercury Group, headed by former Cronulla player and Parramatta premiership-winning coach John Monie, "to review their operations seven years ago." The report -- obtained by Sin Bin -- was presented to the board after interviews with more than 30 administrators and players. It identified "weaknesses" in management structure and made recommendations, most critically, "that the chief executive officer be accountable for the performance of the club." It was stated that every player "should conduct, as a minimum, an annual discussion with the CEO." History will show that the club "hasn't had one for three years" (SMH, 3/17).
NEW CHAIR IN TOWN: Also in Sydney, Webster & Ritchie wrote ASADA "will not start interviewing the 14 Sharks players implicated in the investigation until next week - not this week as previously hoped." The federal government last week "threw an additional 10 investigators at the ASADA doping inquiry," but warned the NRL it must ensure clubs such as Cronulla fully cooperate if they want the matter quickly resolved. Meanwhile, a left-field candidate "has emerged for next month's Sharks board elections with Brisbane lawyer Chris Raleigh expected to nominate." In a swipe at former Cronulla Sharks Chair Damian Irvine, Raleigh said: "If a hotel concierge can become the chairman of the club, I'm confident I have more than adequate qualifications to be able to contribute positively as a board member" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/17).